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It Takes A Villi

The ABC’S of Health
By Dr. Jo Gjelsten
“It Takes A Villi”
Save the villi, someone once said. I think it was me, just now. What are villi and why do we want to save them? Villi are little finger- like projections of the lining of your intestines that increase the surface area so you can absorb more nutrients from food. They are damaged, and or, destroyed, heaven forbid, if your body can’t digest gluten Gladis. This damage is called Celiac Disease, from the word koelia which means abdomen in Greek, and named by a physician who couldn’t spell in English in the first century A.D, so he sounded it out, and everyone thought he was talking about a bear.
For our understanding of this subject we begin at the beginning, where most things begin, many times if not all the time, with the observation of the fact that kids in the Netherlands who stopped eating bread during WWII because of shortages, stopped dying (dying???!!!) of celiac disease..the incidence of which went from 35% of them to zero per cent of them.  Yes, this is that serious.
Why this fact didn’t catch on as really big news is a mystery to me. In fact most people, including many “Medical Folk”, and me before I found out, believe that Celiac Disease is a dysfunction of your intestines brought about by gluten sensitivity/digestion problem, which it is, so diarrhea, bloating, errts, pwuths pwewths, toots, borborigmis, (a real word), and other intestinal music, (I hear the sound of music) sounds like Celiac and without all that, it doesn’t even show up on their radar screen Spock.
Is that all there is, Peggy? No, no, Nanette!  What else might it look like then Dr. Jo? The list is as long as your arm, because without villi we don’t absorb what we need to, for instance, stay alive.
 We start with anemia because iron doesn’t get absorbed. If you’ve had anemia for a while and no one can find out why, get the RIGHT testing. Calcium may not get absorbed as much, resulting in osteoporosis, along with anemia.
Some folks with undiagnosed celiac have neurological problems like mental illness, epilepsy, seizures, dementia, and peripheral neuropathy (49%).  But wait, there’s more! How about headaches (28%)! And depression due to decreased levels of tryptophan, serotonin and dopamine can be from untreated celiac!
Endocrine problems like thyroiditis (Grave’s, Hashimoto’s) are often associated with celiac, and “abnormal liver enzymes (non-alcoholic liver disease), are common in both thyroid disorders and subclinical celiac disease.” Add to that list, biliary (gall bladder/liver) cirrhosis, and autoimmune hepatitis. Not fun.
Diabetes type 1? Moms, you need to know that kids who are fed gluten before six months of age , especially in the first three months, “yields a four-fold risk of developing islet cell (pancreatic) auto-antibodies (and potentially subsequent diabetes) than exclusive breast feeding. What else? Short stature if kids are not absorbing vitamins and minerals.  Folate deficiency is especially linked to this disease, and can cause a whole host of problems. And think about the article I did about autism and its link to digestive disturbances? Autism is now a gluten-associated disease, as is fibromyalgia. 
Fibromyalgia. Don’t get me started says Dr. Jo. This is a disease that is, in my opinion, made up by those who don’t know what to do for tired and sore mostly women, so they put you on an anti-depressant so you’ll go away happy. But it could just be a reaction to gluten, or an undiagnosed infection, or undiagnosed thyroid problems, or all three.
 So autoimmune is the operative word here, when it comes to gluten/celiac. Problems like RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and other autoimmune conditions which may be linked to gluten are Lupus and Sjogren’s Disease .  Sjogrens, which results in dry eyes and arthritis, is seen mostly in older Scandinavians which accounts for its vowel-impaired name, like Gjelsten, a personal favorite of mine. For a country with 4 or 5 extra vowels, aah, auw, euhw, “ish” sounds, for instance, Norwegians do use them sparingly.
Back to Celiac. What to do? Get tested. Your levels of antibodies to yourself, called auto-antibodies, become high when your immune system responds to what it thinks is a threat, and that would be you, because the immune system gets the wrong message from undigested complexes which is too complex to go into. The tests are lots of acronyms for big words Doc. They are:  tTGA, EMA, IgA, and AGA . “AGA should not be used alone to diagnose”. There are combinations of these which constitute a diagnosis, so just because you have a negative test that doesn’t mean you don’t have the disease. While an intestinal biopsy is the gold standard for confirmation of the diagnosis, it is now also being diagnosed from blood tests, and thought by some experts to miss some submicroscopic problems. If you have one of these blood tests, you have to be eating gluten at the time of the testing to show any antibody activity. There are also stool sample tests where you don’t have to be on gluten for it to show up.  Do this with professional help. It must be monitored. There are also genetic tests that look for DQ markers DQ2/DQ8, and others. DQ, as in Dairy Queen, but not as much fun.
 What not to eat, and what-not   Not to be a fly in the ointment, but if you have celiac this is very serious business and you must stop eating all of the following real, and not so real but I couldn’t help myself, stuff: Look at labels and get educated about soups, soy sauces, lo-fat, no-fat, wo-fat, hydrolyzed veggie protein, texturized veggie protein, natural flavors, some unnatural flavors, some alcohol, some vinegar, some pharmaceuticals (oy vey) some candies, sometimes I feel like a nut, cold cuts, wheat, barley, rye, kamut, caput, oat, spelt, slept, and schlepped. And more. Ok, read the labels Mabel because you can’t do this half way and get results. Your life may depend upon it so don’t be lazy. If you’ve been gluten-free, , you may or may not know it by symptoms. You can be relatively symptom free and still have damage being done, so a blood monitoring is very important if you have celiac. The diagnosis can turn your life around if you really stick to the diet, and the diet isn’t impossible especially today. There are foods all over Rockland County now that are gluten free.
And you don’t have to look far for a gluten free treat. There is the Little Bake Shop in Valley Cottage, “Your source for gluten-free baked goods”, or you might want to try my current favorite food stop, a FABULOUS organic healthy gem of a roadside stand, the PALISADES MARKET on 9W. They even have a little walk-up stand serving “Janes” Ice Cream. Thanks Jane.  Back to gluten before we go glutton. We have to make sure your villi are viable Verna. Get tested. More information on my website.  www.godrjo.com  Copyright May 2010.


The products and claims made about specific products on our site have not been evaluated by any regulatory health authority and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on our site is for informational purposes only. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any or stopping any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.


B Vitamins Beneficial in Celiac Disease

Vitamin B supplementation reduces blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid implicated in cardiovascular disease, among patients with celiac disease.* Celiac disease is a digestive disorder characterized by an abnormal immune response to gluten (a protein found in wheat) and poor absorption of nutrients. Malabsorption of B vitamins due to celiac disease often results in elevated homocysteine.

The study included 25 adults with celiac disease who took daily B-vitamin supplements, 26 adults with celiac disease not taking vitamins, and 50 healthy controls who were not taking vitamins. Blood samples were drawn to measure vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine. Patients with celiac disease who took vitamins had significantly higher B-vitamin levels and significantly lower homocysteine levels compared with the other two groups.

The authors concluded that “regular use of B-vitamin supplements is effective in reduction of homocysteine levels in patients with celiac disease and should be considered in disease management.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS


More about Celiac From Dr. Robert Rowen

Robert Rowen, MD


Is Bread Keeping You Sick?

A few years ago, I met Lana, a 40-year-old who came to me with a perplexing variety of non-specific complaints including symptoms of malaise, joint aches, fatigue, and mild low thyroid with thyroiditis. Osteoporosis complications ran in her family and she was terrified it would happen to her.

Lana’s symptoms were intermittent, starting only five years earlier, and she had failed every diagnostic test performed by her physicians. Exasperated, she came to me, and despite my best efforts at helping, including amalgam removal (she had toxic mercury levels), improved diet, detoxification through nutritional strategies, and thyroid support with low-dose thyroid medication, she improved only moderately. I felt her improvement was most likely due to the mercury removal.

The next step was performing the currently available gluten sensitivity test, just on general principles, but it was negative. I was now frustrated and in spite of the negative test, I suggested she eliminate all gluten foods. Equally frustrated and aware that her diet did seem to have an association with her symptoms, she followed my advice. Upon her return in just one month, she was excited to report all symptoms had simply disappeared!

Recent information published in The Lancet, Gastroenterology, and other journals has begun to shed light on what happened with Lana. Scientists have definitely determined that induction of at least one autoimmune disease complex is food based and directly related to inherited genetic factors. A relatively common medical problem, celiac disease, is characterized by sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, oat, rye, kamut, and spelt, with wheat seemingly the worst offender. Celiac refers to the upper intestine, where the classical form of the disease manifests its worst symptoms. However, the more recent studies, based on a newly developed specific test, strongly suggest we have been looking only at the tip of the iceberg.

Symptoms vary so widely that most doctors will never even suspect this problem. It’s now recognized that most symptoms occur outside the digestive tract. Thus, simply being aware of this disorder can serve you immensely. This should interest anyone who is suffering from a myriad of unexplained symptoms.

You see, the problem with the predominant thought on celiac disease is the absence of digestive symptoms. Medical training in the past taught doctors that patients suffering from celiac must have digestive symptoms. Historically, the diagnosis was made by biopsy of the small intestine showing thinning and damage of the specialized absorptive lining. Over time, certain blood tests became available (anti-gluten or gliadin antibodies), but it was known that these missed a lot of people, resulting in many false negative tests and missed diagnoses.

However, in recent years, another test has become available, which has significantly changed the understanding of this disease. Called an anti-tTG test, it involves only a drop of blood, which in 30 minutes can show the presence of antibodies to an enzyme. Note, it’s testing for an individual antibodies to “his own” enzyme — autoimmunity! This test is reportedly 100 percent sensitive and 96 percent specific. Thus, it picks up everyone with this disorder and only a tiny percentage of false positives. However, even this test can read a false negative if one has been off gluten for a long time. Thus, it the disorder is suspected, it would be wise to repeat the test, after a gluten grain has been in the diet.



NOTE: Nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice. It is informational in purpose only and taken from numerous readily available articles written by physicians and researchers. For medical advice consult with an informed physician.



The products and claims made about specific products on our site have not been evaluated by any regulatory health authority and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on our site is for informational purposes only. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any or stopping any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.


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August 11, 2016
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Joanne Gjelsten

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